22 December 2009

19 December 2009

Cub Bear and The Moon coming together

Well the children's story I wrote for the kids is shaping up. It's gone through three edits and been picked over by my editors.

Took some pencil to paper and sketched out our title protagonist, Cub Bear. Also doodled a little confused marmot as well.

I just hope the kids like it.

18 December 2009

Sore backs, nearby avalanches & drawing a cub

The biggest mystery to me this morning, other than how anybody could ever watch Glen Beck, is why the heck my back is sore. True I lifted weights for the first time in a week but I took it easy. Also because of the hand, I stayed away from free weights and just did machines.

But it's baffling because I worked out chest, triceps and core - not back. Or it could be this is the first time I lifted since I got a massage on Saturday.

So sorry Kirsten. I undid all of the good work you did on my knots on Saturday evening. Must schedule a return visit for January.

Found it amusing that two skiers triggered a series of avalanches two valleys over from where Dan & I snowshoes and dug avy pits.

From CAIC:
Even though the weather has not been impacting the the snowpack much the last few days, triggered avalanches are still a problem. Yesterday near Dry Gulch east of Ike Tunnel, riders/skiers remotely triggered a good sized slab off Trelease Mtn. The crown was about 1,000 ft away from the skiers when it was triggered. The debris stopped around 400 feet away as it hit a large flat bench. That slide triggered another slide in the next bowl over, (on the other side of a tree island which was about 200 ft wide). Both slopes were estimated at 35-38 degrees steep, NNE aspects above treeline running to below treeline.

I told Dan even after seeing the apparent weak layers in the snowpack, and after triggering collapses with very little effort, I would have felt comfortable skiing where we were. There were a couple of reasons why:

* We were at about tree line and the east aspect we were on was sparsely covered with trees. It created many open slopes but with heavier forestation above us, I felt good that there was enough anchor points to stave off any catastrophic slides.

* We were at about 30-35 degrees. Ideal angles for avys. But what I was seeing and how the snow was reacting, I would suspect that steeper terrain would be the locale for the bad avalanches.

Putting together the children's story book for Hannah & Ryan. I got plenty of stickers, stamps and other little illustrations to make it interesting for the kids. The thing that I was missing was my main character; Cub Bear.

Came across some sketches that will make a good templet for the mischievous protagonist.

And remember, please leave the marmots alone. They're going to wheeze their noses off!

16 December 2009

Snowshoe Doubled - Where your feet take you

Tis the season to wander. Point your two feet in a direction and just go. There be no destination needed, all that is required is around you.

A couple of days on the snowshoes have been refreshing. On Tuesday I drove in a direction and then stopped at a spot on the snow-covered road that had enough width in order for me to park.

It was a nondescript mountain out west. After some aimless wandering searching for ridges, I turned back and went another direction.

I was rewarded with two things: the first was nearly running into a deer buck. The other was finding a secret tree skiing area that will be perfect when there is a little more added to the snowpack and when avy danger is high above tree line.

Trying to see the forest from the trees. The ridges petered out into an indistinct slope. Plenty of wildlife tracks though, including a fresh set of a younger mountain lion heading downhill and to the south.

I will be back once we get another dump to get a taste of the 600-foot runs. If you ask me for the location, Ill let you know.

On Wednesday, Dan and I headed up Watrous Gulch towards Woods Mountain. It was our first outing together since Mt Audubon. And ignominiously it was Dan's first outdoors trip since then and my first time back up in the alpine since our Indian Peaks outing.

Dan was also nursing an injured meniscus and I was suffering from tendonitis in my left hand. So we made quite the gimpy pair.

The snow was thin down below but the snowpack at and above tree line was deeper than I anticipated. I broke trail for a good portion of it and we decided to eschew the "trail" and just make a rising traverse on the side of the gulch we were on.

The views were superlative as usual, and the wallowing was fun. I knew we weren't going to get up Woods Mountain. While having a goal is good, you shouldn't have to handcuff yourself to it.

After a couple of hours we found a good spot to have Dan dig his first snow pit. He has been boning up on his avalanche knowledge and I am all to eager to teach him what I know from my experience.

Dan trying to unlock the secrets the snowpack contained.

Dan getting belligerent with the snow.

The two layers of facets were scary. It is a dangerous snow pack out there. Shovel shear tests pried off a foot-deep slab with far too little effort from the upper hoar level. After a small windslab crust, the base of the entire snowpack is on a flimsy layer of facets that can be swept up. I had never seen such a weak layer in my alpine time and numerous pits before.

But even though the evidence we unearthed showed a very touchy snowpack, I informed Dan I would feel comfortable skiing where we were at. Mainly because the slope was fairly well treed and the angle wasn't vertiginously steep.

Mind you if it was an open slope and or approaching 45 degrees, there is no way I would do a ski cut.

Still it was good to breathe hard, point the feet uphill and enjoy the views, company and conditions.

10 November 2009

Mt Audubon

We had the intestinal fortitude, I just had problems with the intestines. Shooting pains most of the day kept me from the summit. Dan didn't want to go alone. So after doing the fun parts we descended. Was rough turning back so close to the summit and with the difficult parts dispatched. But my pain threshold was reached at that point.

Oh, and the fall on to the spire of rock, bruising me, didn't help matters.

Still a great day in the alpine, even if the wind tried blowing us off the Southeast Ridge a few times.

Dan could have used his ice ax and we both could have used our crampons. Next time, I'm gonna cut down on the garlic.

03 November 2009

Front Porch

Dan and I hooked up for a mellow 4-pitch 5.2 in the Flatirons. We got more than we bargained for.

A joke at the base but could have been a harbinger of the day of climbing??

Dan led the first pitch up the east face, south side of Front Porch. He got a piece right about his stance here. Then his next piece was about 80 feet up. Thankfully it was mellow climbing.

After that Dan went a little off-route. He climbed up another 20 feet to underneath a roof. He slotted two cams and then got stuck. Mellow climbing it wasn't anymore. So he downclimbed to his last piece and then a little more to a mellow pseudo-ledge traverse and then up and to a belay tree.

I padded up after him and got to the roof. Once there, we both realized what a terrible traverse with some serious consequences I had ahead of me. I clipped into one of the cams while Dan quickly climbed up above him and created a directional piece that was at least at equal height to my traverse.

Once done I had two choices: either traverse high on some tough stuff or downclimb and follow the way Dan went. I started the downclimb but it just didn't seem right to me. That was going to be about 50 feet of rope out. At least up high the tension of the traverse wasn't going to have the rope pulling me out of whack and with only 30 feet of rope out.

Deep breath and I did the high traverse which included at least one smear of faith. I'd say it went about 5.9.

I got to the anchor and we switched gear. I started going up the slot but I was slightly spooked. Not from what was ahead of me but from what I just completed. Dan noticed I was still breathing pretty hard and asked if I was alright. While I wasn't consciously spooked or scared, my body was telling me differently.

I downclimbed to the anchor and gave Dan the gear back and he led up the slot. Following I realized it was the best choice. Stuff that looked hard while on lead was much more doable. The pitch was awkward with a lot of stemming across a chasm, chokestones, tree humping, chimneying and I did get a chicken wing thrown in for good measure.

We had climbed well over 300 feet in our two pitches and the climb itself was 400 feet. Though we took a long ass time, given the lower part of the route was amorphous, and the upper pitch was grueling.

We escaped from there, glad to call it a day as Dan had to be in Denver at a certain time.

Still a day out climbing with good company is a great day.

However, the consensus was, "5.2 my ass". And put an X next to that number grade.

24 September 2009

Ah Vegas

Spent a wonderful three nights in Vegas with Caitlin. We stayed in Paris and were upgraded to a suite our final two nights there since our room wasn't ready the first night and we had to have two queen beds.

Went out Saturday night on my birthday to the hotspot Tao where we chilled in the lounge and feasted on Chilean sea bass that quite possibly have been the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.

Much time was spent at the pool. Ate a very good dinner at the Bellagio and caught a Cirque de Soleil show.

Caitlin's cousin Nancy lives in town with her husband Jeff and their daughter Nicolette. So we had dinner with them one night.

Unfortunately I still have to get some of the pics. But here are a couple that set the mood for the trip:

Some more pics:

Caitlin & I at my birthday dinner at Tao.

Some familiar faces in an unfamiliar setting. It was a great act of randomness running into my cousins Angelo and Debbie outside of our hotel on the first night.

Giant fortune cookie. Fortunes came true!

Pool at Paris. Much time was spent here.

Caitlin & I at showing of Mystere.

09 September 2009


Not nearly enough, but it felt great getting in climbing on three straight days.

Labor Day I left work a little early and headed up to 3 Sisters for a bouldering session. Made the mistake that day of having a skewed ratio of food to caffeine. The hard burly stuff was easy. However anything requiring balance, the jitters made it much tougher than it needed to be.

After struggling for an hour I called it a session.

Tuesday Andrea and I went up to Maxwell Falls and scoped out some climbs. We rapped down and then top-roped a 5.8. It started raining while I waited to get on the rock. But of course it stopped when I finished the climb.

I queried if we should try some more but the thunder and the black wall of clouds moving in from the west and the voice of reason that is Andrea. We cleaned up and hiked back. Had a good time eating in Evergreen and then driving to and checking on a house for sale that had caught my eye.

Wednesday had Chad, Dan and I climbing at Clear Creek Canyon. It was a good completing the circle for both Dan and Chad, since the last time they climbed together was Chad's ignominous accident.

Three climbs a piece. Good evening. All of us it seems are still getting our heads back in leading.

Climbing and drinking beer with friends... it doesn't get better really.

20 August 2009

An August roundup

Yesterday I enjoyed the benefit of not having to worry about thunderstorms and got up at the lazy hour of 7 am for a day in the mountains. A partner bailed but I still went out and climbed the West Ridge of Pacific Peak.

The approach thoroughly taxed me. It wasn't until I was descending back to the truck I realized how steep the hike was. Add to the fact that I went too high and wound up on the west ridge of Atlantic Peak, before descending to the Pacific Creek basin.

The ridge was rather easy and I ran up the thing quickly. A little over halfway up, the fun stops and talus slogging begins. I've come to terms years ago that I am not a peak-bagger. For me it's the journey that makes the day. So when the climbing ended, I reversed course and downclimbed, a little off the ridge crest this time, and got back to the basin.

Forgot the camera on the desk in my loft so no pictures. Not that I was stopped long enough to really do more than take in the views of the basins and the shrill chirps of pikas and marmots.

Some pics from previous excursions the past few weeks:

Spent three days in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range again. Only had one good day of climbing weather, where I rode up the worst road known to man (Hermit Pass Road) and climbed some headwalls that were more than I planned. Also the steep talus and forest in between made for a very stout 1,200 feet of climbing.

The camera tilt doesn't do it justice. Scampered up 10 feet before realizing I couldn't get off the rock on to the steep talus without possibly destroying an ankle or sliding down 100 feet into the forest. So I climbed up the slopping slab.

Some idyllic mountain stream photos. The stillness of the forest was buzzing with the flights of bees and other assorted winged critters. Great place to eat lunch and contemplate the noise of life.

The false summit of Horn Peak tries to peek out from clouds. I took the wrong trail and once near treeline, discovered everything was saturated with moisture. Any climbing was out for that day. Still got about 12 miles of forested hiking in of getting yelled at by numerous garrulous squirrels.

Fun Sangre rock. Some closeups on a boulder problem I scrapped my way up during my hiking.

Crestone Needle and other peaks in the south of the group. Drove up a 4WD road to treeline and nearly got blown away. Constant wind around 40 mph with gusts upwards to 60 mph. My hat blew away once while I waited for the blustery conditions to abate. They never did and so I left. Wasn't going to do a solo ridge climb in such conditions. I like me!

Weston Pass. Decided to check out a road I had passed numerous times in South Park. I got led to this spot, where I ran up a 13er near the pass and got snowed on coming down.